Objectives: to investigate the population impact on functional disability of chronic conditions individually and in combination.
Methods: data from 9,008 community-dwelling individuals aged 65 and older from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging (CSHA) were used to estimate the population attributable risk (PAR) for chronic conditions after adjusting for confounding variables. Functional disability was measured using activity of daily living (ADL) and instrumental activity of daily living (IADL).
Results: five chronic conditions (foot problems, arthritis, cognitive impairment, heart problems and vision) made the largest contribution to ADL- and IADL-related functional disabilities. There was variation in magnitude and ranking of population attributable risk (PAR) by age, sex and definition of disability. All chronic conditions taken simultaneously accounted for about 66% of the ADL-related disability and almost 50% of the IADL-related disability.
Conclusions: in community-dwelling older adults, foot problems, arthritis, cognitive impairment, heart problems and vision were the major determinants of disability. Attempts to reduce disability burden in older Canadians should target these chronic conditions; however, preventive interventions will be most efficient if they recognize the differences in the drivers of PAR by sex, age group and type of functional disability being targeted.